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TEFL Masterclass – Text Mediation. Developing Useful Communication Strategies In The ELT Classroom.

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Riccardo Chiappini – Award-Winning ELT Materials Writer, Editor & Teacher Trainer

Riccardo Chiappini is an ELT materials writer and teacher trainer based in Madrid, Spain. He is the author of Activities for Mediation: Building bridges in the ELT Classroom (DELTA Publishing/Klett), which has recently won the British Council ELTon award for Innovation in Teacher Resources. He has also written mediation-related and many other types of course materials for the Spanish Ministry of Education, National Geographic Learning, Macmillan, and Oxford University Press.

What you will learn

In this webinar, we’ll be talking about the concept of text mediation, its place in the language classroom, and how to help students develop useful communication strategies to mediate information contained in texts.

We’ll start by analyzing some authentic communicative situations in which text mediation is possible or necessary. From these situations we’ll extract the main ingredients of text mediation (i.e. texts, participants, objective), and then we’ll put them back together to create practical classroom activities for different teaching and learning contexts.

We’ll close the webinar with a discussion on the importance of context in mediation and how a different target audience can translate into different mediation strategies and target texts.

Workshop Summary

Introduction to Text Mediation in ELT:

Riccardo Chiappini, an ELT materials writer from Madrid, introduced ‘text mediation’ in the latest Gallery Teachers ELT Masterclass. Text mediation refers to the process of interpreting various forms of communication, like written, spoken, or visual texts, and is a vital element in an effective ELT classroom. Riccardo identified situations where text mediation is necessary and how it influences communication strategies, as well as the task creation process.

Understanding Text Mediation:

To understand text mediation, Riccardoi provided four scenarios demonstrating the necessity of a mediator. This person has access to a source text and relays the information to the ‘target audience’ using another text (the target text). In these scenarios, text mediation becomes necessary due to reasons such as lack of time, unfamiliarity with the topic, or a language barrier.

Applying Text Mediation to Classroom Tasks:

Riccardo showed how these scenarios could be translated into classroom tasks. For example, a student may need to translate an advert for a non-English-speaking parent or explain a diagram from a textbook to a classmate who missed class. He also pointed out how such tasks can be adapted to suit various age groups and skill levels.

Strategies for Text Mediation:

Students performing these tasks need to employ a range of strategies. These include summarising key information, elaborating on important points, and paraphrasing. The mediator should also connect the source information to the audience’s prior experience and knowledge. This process can vary greatly depending on the context and the audience’s age, knowledge, culture, and language.

The Importance of Understanding the Audience:

A deep understanding of the target audience is critical in the mediation process. The mediator must answer two key questions: “What is the most suitable approach for a given situation?” and “What strategies should I employ to make a message accessible to a specific audience?” Different situations may necessitate different strategies, demonstrating the importance of reflection before each act of mediation.

Adapting to Different Audiences:

Riccardo provided examples showing how mediation may differ for different target audiences. For instance, the same online advert could require the mediator to elaborate more on difficult terms for one audience while leaving them as is for a more proficient group. Moreover, cultural adaptations may be required to ensure the relevance of the text.

The Role of Text Mediation in Critical Thinking

Text mediation encourages critical thinking among students, asking them to adapt their communication according to the audience. The task of summarising, paraphrasing, or translating texts for authentic reasons bridges the gap between classroom learning and real-world language use. In conclusion, Riccardo illustrated the importance of text mediation in ELT classrooms, providing insight into how to construct mediation tasks, and showing how different contexts demand different approaches.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. What text mediation activities do I already do in my classes?
  2. How can text mediation training help my group(s) of students become better language users?
  3. What kind of text mediation activities would work best for my classes?

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